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Solar panels and haute couture ?

Noon Solar1I think I might be getting obsessed by solar power…people are emailing me links to all sorts of products – just because I raved about the PowerMonkey…

Now here is a a set of fashionable bags from NoonSolar with built in solar panels for charging gadgets on the move – who said sailing fashion was all about waterproofs and Goretex 😉

Product details:

  • Two-sided design allows solar panel to face the sun or your body Noon Solar2
  • 9” drop from shoulder
  • 2 interior zipper pockets — 1 for battery and electronics
  • 1 exterior zipper pocket
  • Leather zipper pulls
  • Magnetic snap closure
  • 16 x 13 x 4”, 9.5 x 8.75”, solar panel
  • Entire exterior and interior constructed from Bavarian sourced, chrome-free, naturally tanned and dyed, full-grain cowhide leather and naturally dyed hemp cotton blend.


Portable solar panels from Brunton

Solar roll1I have only just discovered Brunton solar panels which although they appear to be directed at the camping market are water proof and robust enough to use on a sailing cruiser.

These are the salient features claimed by the manufacturers:

  • Amorphous solar cells for effective low-light performance
  • Reverse flow protection
  • Tefzel® fluoropolymer construction for extreme durability
  • Waterproof
  • UV transparent
  • Link multiple like-units together for even more output Solar roll2
  • Rolls and stores in convenient storage tube
  • Includes vehicle outlet cable & multi-linking cable
  • One-year warranty

They also offer a useful chart pdfof typical panels and the charging time you might expect from portable and fixed solar panels….

Looks like a another competitor to the PowerMonkey I reviewed (and bought) earlier !


Sunware Medium Power Semi Flexible Solar Panels

Sunware solar panels claim to have the highest power output to surface ratio of semi-flexible panels currently on the market – 27, 30 and 40 watts per panel. They are specifically designed for marine applications

Sunware Solar Panel27 Watt Panel
Peak Output – 27watts
Max Current – 1.96amps @ 13.8volts
Open circuit volts – 20.9volts
Qty of cells – 36
Dimensions – 585x465mm
Weight – 3.2kg

Have you seen better ?


The “Impossible” Battery

I don’t know if you have come across this battery or the claims being made by Lifeline, the manufacturers.

  • Thick plates for deep cycle use
  • No maintenance required ever
  • Double the cycles than a standard Gel battery
  • Can be mounted in any orientation
  • No venting
  • Recharges 30% faster
  • No upper charging level limit
  • 5 year warranty

What caught my attention apart from the price (less than GEL) and the charging claims – which by the way makes them Lifeline batterymore suited to solar panel charging systems…was the safety aspect – “No Venting”. When batteries are mounted for bow thrusters or an anchor windlass they are often sited under the bed or at least somewhere within the fore cabin. So any improvement in safety here would be of interest.

A conventional electrical system would consist of two battery banks (one for engine starting, the other for house loads), a blocking diode split charger and alternator controller. The diode would split charge between the two battery banks while the alternator controller would develop high charging voltage to ensure rapid battery charging.

With this Lifeline system you could have the two battery banks and then a VSR (Voltage Sensitive Relay) that’s all. The system would work in exactly the same way and would also charge as quickly. While the initial battery cost is higher than conventional batteries, the expensive split charger and alternator controller isn’t needed. What’s more, the system would be easier, and less expensive overall, to install.

Due to Lifeline’s low internal resistance, response to high power surge demands on

inverters is better matched. Conventional thick plate lead/acid batteries or gel cells

take time to respond to, and deliver high currents; Lifeline provides high current

instantly preventing the surge from motors, power tools etc tripping out the

inverter’s low battery cut-out (this often happens even if the conventional battery

bank isn’t flat). Leading inverter manufacturers recommend Lifeline for professional

installations of their products.

Bow thrusters
Bow thrusters require high surge power to start (in the same way as inverters,

above) making Lifeline entirely appropriate for this application. However, how long

does a bow thruster run for? Typically, 3 minutes maximum. Say the thruster was

rated at 4kW at 12V (which equates to around 333 amps); Remember though that

this is an hourly rate (333 amps), so divide it by 60 to get an approximate 5.5 Ah per


pdfDownload the Merlin Split Charging Guide here for more info.

To download my free Excel spreadsheet showing how to assess your power usage while at marina, anchor, or sailing please click here


Sunsei Solar Panels

The Sunsei range of solar panel chargers seem to be attracting a few fans recently.

These are good value for money and reasonably weather proof too. You can use them inside and they willSunsei135 take a charge from sunlight coming through a window but if you do leave the panel on the coach roof or anywhere outside put a bead of clear silicone gel around the edges of the solar plate and connector. Mounts virtually anywhere, suction cups included (no extra mounting devices needed)

All Sunsei solar panels in the SE135 / SE-400 / SE1200 range are equipped with a built-in diode, which prevents any reverse current so they cannot perversely drain your batteries. Touch-action indicator lets you know your panel is charging

  • Sunsei SE 135 = 135mA /2w (can connect direct to the battery – no controller required)
  • Sunsei SE400 = 400mA / 6w (can connect direct to the battery – no controller required)
  • Sunsei SE1200 = 1200mA / 18w (needs separate charge controller before connecting to the battery)

Sunsei bracketWhat do you get in the box :-Sunsei controller

  • 1 cigarette lighter adapter
  • 1 battery clamp connector
  • 1 set suction cups
    10 year power warranty

With the compelling need to reduce our consumption of normal power sources that depend on fossil fuels it is a good idea to do your bit by not plugging in at the marina and becoming a little more self sufficient when it comes to keeping your batteries charged.